Vrindavan, 2016.04.15 (VT): Yogi Amrit Desai, one of the pioneers of modern yoga in the West, is currently traveling through India with a number of American disciples and made a quick visit to Vrindavan, staying at Vatsalya Gram. Desai sought out Satyanarayana Dasa Babaji, Mahant of the Jiva Institute. Babaji has on many occasions given courses at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, which Desai founded in Massachusetts in 1983.
Babaji presented Amrit Desai with one of his books and attended arati in the Kailas temple and later had satsanga with the twenty-or-so disciples.
Born in 1932 in Gujarat, Yogi Amrit Desai first came to America in 1960 to study art. But teaching yoga quickly became his vocation. He was one of the earliest of the wave of Indian gurus who came to America in that period and is the last living master from that initial wave.
Now 84 years old, Amrit Desai looks very fit and calm. He has developed his own yoga system over the years, which he calls “Integral Amrit Method” or IAM Yoga. In his discourse to his disciples, Desai described his understanding of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. “Patanjali is not speaking philosophy alone, but is giving a method whereby one can transcend the ego-driven mind,” he said. “The key is that one must practice witnessing the fluctuations of the mind. This is a holistic practice where all the eight limbs of yoga are connected with consciousness and energy.”
In particular, he related this to the practice of postural yoga. “Usually when we do the postures, we do so with the ego-mind. This is called ‘ego-posture.’ The ego is reacting to the edge it faces in doing the posture and tries to go beyond it by force. The IAM yoga method teaches one to do the practice without ego-mind.”
Satyanarayana Dasji also spoke to the group afterwards on Yogiji’s invitation. Babaji immediately began to explain about the process of bhakti yoga. Expressing a little regret that the group is going through Vrindavan, which is one of the most sacred places in all of India, without visiting the temples or learning a little about the yoga of love. In his short discourse he described how the goal of transcending ego is best achieved through love, for when one is in love one naturally becomes indifferent to selfish goals.
The session finished with a short kirtan “Radhe Govinda” and meditation.